Young Malaysians – how can we support you?

Hey EducateDeviate readers – especially from Malaysia – I need your help.

I’m planning to apply to the Sauve Scholars program, a one-year fellowship based in McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where you are given full support and resources to research, study, and work on a project of your choice.

I would like to use the year to come up with a project plan for resources that help young people find support for their passions and interests – mainly from a Malaysian perspective, as there’s nothing there (as you probably know) but involving research into how young people are supported in other countries. To do that, I first need to know what Malaysian youths need in terms of support. So:

Young Malaysians – how can we support you?

Do you need a space for support and advice?
Do you need more information about what’s out there in Malaysia and beyond?
Do you need more money?
Do you need changes in your school?
Do you need a mentor or a support group?
Do you need a club or society?

Whatever it is you want or need, feel free to comment below or email me. Anything from “I would like a personal counsellor to tell me what options I have” to “I would like a million dollars and stuff for my rock band” works. Anything at all.

If you’re not a young Malaysian but you still have ideas, feel free to contribute too. The more I know what to look for, the better I can be at making this project plan. And even if the Sauve Scholars thing doesn’t work out, I still have some concrete starting points to do something back home.

Please also forward this post to your friends and peers – the more ideas the better!

p.s. If you’ve done an undergrad degree, you’re under 30, and you have strong passions for any field of your choice, feel free to apply to Sauve Scholars too 🙂

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Intel asks: What Inspires You?

Computing company Intel became truly inspired about education after their involvement in the One Laptop Per Child project. They’ve now extended that into their Inspired by Education community, which aims to collect stories about how other people were inspired by education.

On the community, you can find out about Intel’s other education initiatives (mainly related to science and maths), find ways to volunteer through education, and share your thoughts on education via text or video. Here are a couple of videos to get you started:

EduPunk – Tech or Mindset?

So recently in the education blog scene there’s been a hubbub over the term EduPunk. It was first coined by Jim Groom in his blog Bava Tuesdays, and from what I can understand, EduPunk basically covers two things:

  1. The use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and so on (as well as non-web things such as Lego) in teaching and education
  2. The backlash against corporate education technology, such as Blackboard, in favour of more grassroots efforts.

The idea is that by using interactive and collaborative tools, and by going for non-corporate producers, education is following a more DIY ethos, which is at the core of punk ideology.

Now while I think the concepts are admirable, I think the “punk” term here is a little misplaced. From how the term’s being used currently (granted, it’s only been less than a week), it seems to me that the focus is more on the technology – rather than the actual mindset of being punk.

It’s great to incorporate latest technologies in education, particularly in encouraging students and teachers to interact and collaborate with each other in the learning process. But there’s no point in forcing students to start blogs or in maintaining copious wikis on every topic, if the central ethics are not the core of the learning experience. By focusing on the tools, this doesn’t become EduPunk – it becomes EduTrendy.

To be really EduPunk, and really adhere to punk’s DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic, participants in the learning process need to be given freedom and independence to learn their own way. Current technology has made this process simpler, but it’s not really the tools that matter – students can still educate themselves with paper and books if that’s all they have at their disposal.

I suppose in a way EducateDeviate and alternative education in general is very EduPunk – it’s all about creating and exploring your own styles and ways of learning, experimenting with different things, being free to learn what you want to learn how you want to. Instead of being dictated from a higher authority on what you ought to learn, you get to decide for yourself.

Some princles of the EduPunk Mindset, then, would be:

  • Freedom to decide the content of your own learning
  • Freedom to learn according to your chosen styles
  • Freedom to express yourself through your learning processes
  • Freedom to engage in different forms of education, traditional or non-traditional, including experiential education and service learning
  • Freedom to incorporate your own personal experiences and thoughts with your learning
  • Freedom to hold your own perspectives, ideas, and opinions on various topics
  • Freedom to learn at your own pace
  • Freedom to use any of the tools at your own disposal to learn
  • Freedom to choose from various providers of education at your own discretion
  • Freedom to set your own educational path

How then can we match up the tools-focused perception of EduPunk with the mindset of EduPunk? Should we think less of the tools and technology, and start thinking of ways to reform education systems to allow for more DIY learning?

Other resources for opportunities – alternative education, youth empowerment, getting involved

There have been many opportunities for fellowships, conferences, scholarships, courses, and so on that come my way and should really be on this blog. However, I haven’t always had the time to post all the information that comes my way – especially when about 10 of them come at once in a newsletter.

I get my information mainly from a few sources, and I would recommend that you check those sources out to find more great opportunities for youth and alternative education. Here’s where to look:

TakingITGlobal – awesome resource for young people looking to make a difference. Events, scholarships, groups, projects, whatever – everything you need is there.

Have Fun Do Good – Britt Bravo’s blog has a lot of information and resources on making a difference in creative ways. I particularly like the books she recommends – she has great taste (and great luck because she gets the books for free!)

TinKosong – this blog, started by a bunch of Malaysian university students, contains regular information on opportunities for young Malaysians to get involved and expand their education. A lot of the information we have is crossposted between the two blogs, since we both have a similar scope (though they do come from a more Ivy base).

Education in Malaysia – the other top Malaysian education blog (haha), whose founder Tony Pua is now an MP! While EiM is more about analysis and commentary rather than opportunities, they do sometimes appear, and it’s a good resource for current affairs in education anyhow.

Ask MetaFilter – every so often there will be a question about travel, education, or opportunities, and the answers given would be top notch. The main site, Metafilter, doesn’t really carry much links about opportunities, but it’s worth a watch.

The Star: Education – Every week in their Sunday pullout, they write up about different educational opportunities and events across Malaysia, and it’s republished on the website. Youth2 is another good source in the paper; however, their website isn’t quite as regularly updated.

GoAbroad and TransitionsAbroad – both great resources for anything to do with travel and going abroad. GoAbroad also has a regular newsletter with information on different programs that you can subscribe to.

ActNow – This Australian-based website is all about educating and empowering youth to make change in their communities. Within their pages are plenty of information and resources on current issues, and ways you can get involved.

World Youth Foundation – this Malaysia-based organization releases a regular email newsletter with all sorts of updates and information on youth empowerment and making a difference.

Young Social Enterprise Initiative – they provide various programs and fellowships for young social entrepreneurs to gain funding and mentoring for their work and enterprises. Their social network, FutureShifters, allows young social entrepreneurs to connect with each other and share ideas.

Global Youth Action Network – the organization that links youth-based organizations together. Their newsletter, YouthLink Express, has all sorts of information on events, conferences, possible scams (which are unfortunately an issue with youth conferences), organizations, and many others.

International Young Professionals Foundation – not just for young professionals, but for any young person seeking to make a difference. Membership is inexpensive (and there are funding options if you can’t afford it) and they have tons of information on various opportunities across the globe.

Social Edge – Opportunities – such an AMAZING resource for anything to do with social change and social entrepreneurship. Check out their main site too for discussions and resources on the same topics.

Do you have any other resources for such information and opportunities? Post a comment and share them with us.

Expanding EducateDeviate – what would you like?

EducateDeviate has been up and running for over two years, and in this time it’s grown from being just a blog about my thoughts on education, to a resource for anything related to youth empowerment and non-traditional learning. With that, I’m planning to expand EducateDeviate to make it more self-sustainable, as well as being a better resource for everyone.

Here are some features I’d like to implement:

  • User-submitted content: So far I’m the only person that writes for this blog (aside for a guest post or two for Blogathon), but that means that posting schedules have to fit in with my (increasingly packed) real-life schedule. I would love to open the blog up to you, by allowing you to send in entries and see them published on EducateDeviate. Myself (and possibly a small team) would still moderate the entries for spam/clarity, but other than that, this is a great opportunity for you to get your opinions out and receive feedback from others.
  • Events listing: A lot of the posts I make on EducateDeviate are reminders for certain events or competitions – basically, anything with a certain deadline. It would be great to have a regularly-updated sidebar listing related events, which can be updated independently of the blog.
  • Resource directory: One of the main reasons I started EducateDeviate was to provide resources for alternative education opportunities. A directory of resources – programs, schools, people, links, books, etc – clearly organized and searchable by criteria would be amazing.
  • Forums: Some pretty interesting discussions can spring up here from time to time. Let’s encourage them!
  • Sponsorship: Currently, due to WordPress.com’s limitations, I am not allowed to put in any advertising. I’m not opposed to joining an ad banner service such as Nuffnag, Advertlets, or Adsense; however, I don’t want EducateDeviate to be a barrage of advertising. I’d rather advertise public services, non-profits, or youth ventures. So far I make nothing (no money) out of EducateDeviate, and while I don’t need to live off it, it would be good for EducateDeviate to sustain itself. Sponsorship from related organizations and companies would be a great way to connect EducateDeviate’s readers with other resources that could help them, and I would still have enough control to maintain editorial integrity. I could also introduce more commercial aspects such as an Amazon.com bookstore or T-shirts.

That’s just the beginning. In the future I’d like to develop the following:

  • The Educated Deviant scholarship fund to encourage young Malaysians to explore alternative education options
  • Special events such as roadshows, workshops, fairs, and so on
  • Books and other publications – the eBook I’m working on with Daniel is a great start, and I’d love to make more of these
  • Podcasts and vlogs – with enough resources, EducateDeviate could be even more interactive
  • Consulting and counselling services for companies that want to connect to young people, or for young people that want to explore alternative education but don’t know how.

As part of my goals for EducateDeviate is to develop a community of educated deviants, I would like to pose the next question to you:

What do you want to see in EducateDeviate?

Any idea, no matter how weird or silly, is fine. You may inspire something that shows up on the site! Also, if you want to help me develop EducateDeviate further (particularly if you have any experience with web development), please contact me.

Know a kick-ass indie designer/event manager/promoter?

(cross-posted to EducateDeviate, Wanna Be A KP, and Facebook)

I’ve got some plans to develop EducateDeviate further (to make it more self-sustainable) as well as to boost my chances at getting KaosPilots funding.

To do that, I need help with the following:

  • Web design and development – particularly those who can take my list of “I need my website to do this, that, and the other” and develop a nifty CMS that makes the job easy (more details later) while keeping to a certain aesthetic.
  • Graphic design, particularly for postcards and brochures – I have ideas, I just can’t design all that well
  • Event management – someone who can take my ideas and work out how to make it happen
  • Promotions/marketing/publicity – the maven who can get all that above OUT THERE
Now I am a simple college student, which means I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on this endeavour. (I was looking around yesterday and one company quoted $15,000 for a simple website. DUDE. I could go to UWP again and have change with that money.) However, I would love to support indie young up-and-coming artists/designers/practitioners. I’ve been doing that with fashion and I want to do that with more aspects of my life.

I’m looking for someone who can relate to all this as personal projects – too many other options I’ve seen assume I’m a business and get into business-speak. I want someone that’s human. Someone creative and daring. Someone who would pull me out of my box. Someone young is a bonus.

Know anyone who fits this? Are you willing to help? Drop me a line.

Gift Guide: Top 24++ Books for the Educated Deviant (or the Deviantly Educated)

Originally, while writing this post, I was going to make a Top 10 gift list that encompassed all sorts of different things for those who love learning differently. However, just the book list became a major list on their own. I may make the others into their own list, but let’s do it in chunks.

It is the holiday season after all, and there’s bound to be a few lifelong learners on your list. Educated deviants are voracious readers, and books make an excellent gift for any holiday or celebration. Here is our mixed bag of recommendations for:

EducateDeviate’s Top 24++ Books for the Educated Deviant

Delaying The Real World by Colleen Kinder and Lonely Planet Gap Year Book

Burnt out by years in school or work? Want a change? Both books provide plenty of resources, ideas, and personal anecdotes about taking time off to do something else. Whether it be interning at a newspaper in Cambodia, or scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, both books give you great ideas on how to get your gap year (or life!) on.

Anything by Free Spirit Publishing, New Society Publishers, or Princeton Architectural Press

Here’s where the “++” come in. These three publishers release plenty of excellent books about education (The Teenager’s Guide to School Outside the Box), activism (The Troublemaker’s Teaparty), and design (D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself). There’s surely something for everyone in their catalogues.

The Artist’s Way (and workbook) by Julia Cameron and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (and workbook) by Betty Edwards

Everyone is creative, but once in a while we all need some support in rediscovering our creativity. The Artist’s Way is a 12-week course that takes you step by step to rediscovering yourself, your talents, and your passions. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, on the other hand, isn’t just a lesson in visual art: it also trains your brain to notice and think things differently. Besides, scribbling and painting are relaxing.

Be Bold

This new book by Echoing Green highlights the trials and achievements of a number of its Fellows in their quest to make a difference. From a former drug addict who started a recovery program for prisoners with addictions, to a human rights activist campaigning for the rights of people with mental illnesses, the twelve profiles are bound to inspire you to act. There is also a resource list as well as journal pages for you to reflect on how you too can be bold.

Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World by Bill Clinton and Banker for the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

In the past couple of years, innovative philanthropy has taken the world by storm, particularly with the Nobel win of Muhammad Yunus and Grameen, as well as the increase in micro-credit programs. Bill Clinton’s book suggests many different ways people can give back to society (not just financially), while Banker to the Poor chonicles Yunus’s life and his journey to developing Grameen to where it is today.

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide by Michelle Goodman and The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Tired of the typical rat race? Want to define work your own way? Goodman’s and Ferriss’s books describe different options to have a life and make a living, from going freelance to setting up passive income. Both Goodman and Ferriss have blogs, so if you’re hungry for more, subscribe and keep up.

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto and Doing School by Denise Clark Pope

How could I have a list of books for the deviantly educated and not have any books on changing education? These two books, while written many years apart, show the dire need for change in today’s education system. Gatto discusses how schools are no more than just employee factories that don’t encourage creativity and innovation, while Pope follows five high-schoolers as they rush and stress in the race to get into top universities. These books will DEFINITELY make you rethink the school system.

The Tipping Point and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida

The past couple of years has seen a massive rise in nonfiction books that tackle certain topics in innovative ways. Not quite history, not quite politics, not quite philosophy, not quite academic; one bookstore I’ve seen denotes that section as “learn something new every day”. These four books, in my view, started this genre off. Gladwell reexamines how decisions can be made and how they’re influenced, while the Freakonomics duo proposes clever economic causes and effects for seemingly unrelated phenomena. Meanwhile, Florida studies how increasing numbers of people involved in the creative industries can really make an impact in business, communities, and the world.

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was and Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher

Interested in a hundred things at once? Don’t worry, that makes you a typical educated deviant. Barbara Sher calls people like us “Scanners”, and she says that there is absolutely no reason why we can’t be passionate about many different things and explore all those passions. Her books provide a plan for working out those passions, and then arranging time for them effectively. She also has a lot of other books about achieving your goals and passions.

What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson and Roadtrip Nation

Along similar lines as Barbara Sher’s books, both Bronson and the Roadtrip Nation crew went out to interview people from all walks of life about their passions and how they got into the path they’re in. The Roadtrip Nation interviews, originally a TV series are a little more career-focused, but they do show how anyone can succeed from any starting point no matter what. Bronson’s interviews, on the other hand, are more heartfelt, and not everyone in his book has necessarily achieved grand success with their passions or even found their passion – but are learning a lot from the process.

Girlosophy: Real Girls’ Stories by Anthea Paul

The female educated deviants in your life will certainly be inspired by the girls profiled in Paul’s book. From a British girl who works as a faerie, to a pair of Sri Lankans facing the prospect of civil strife, and a lot of surfers (Paul supports organizations for young women surfers), each girl tells first-hand her story, her opinions, and her dreams for life. The innovative use of layout for each story is also a great draw. This book is part of the Girlosophy series, which encourages and supports young women to be themselves and live their best lives.

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

The version I’m promoting here is actually retitled, in some places, Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It, which contains updated information and an entire chapter on climate change. Branson has built his entire life (since he was a teenager) on just acting on ideas instead of waiting for permission. While not all of his ideas worked, most have been great successes, mainly because Branson is willing to take risks and do what it takes to stand out. Here he outlines his basic principles for success (including many stories about balloon rides) and, in the final chapter, urges corporations to take climate change into account.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I find it harder to recommend fiction because tastes tend to be more subjective. However, I found The Alchemist absolutely inspiring to those who dream of exploring and learning more about the world. This tale of a young boy driven to adventure by his (literal) dreams beautifully depicts the importance of paying attention and of following our heart no matter what. It’s a magical fable that will definitely charm any deviant.

Whew! That was a long list. More gift guides might come soon, if I have enough energy to do them. In the meantime, if you have any more recommendations for books, please feel free to share in the comments.

Happy Holidays!

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